A model to simulate channel changes in ephemeral river channels and to test the effects of hydrological changes due to climate change and[sol ]or land use change was developed under the auspices of the EU funded MEDALUS programme (Mediterranean Desertification and Land Use). The model, CHANGISM (Channel Change GIS Simulation Model), is designed to simulate the effect of channel flow events and of climate conditions on morphology, sediment and vegetation, through sequences of events and conditions, over periods of up to several decades. The modelling is based on cellular automata but with calculations for water and sediment continuity. Process rules have both deterministic and stochastic elements. An important feature of the model is that it incorporates feedback elements between each event. The main aim of the model is to indicate the likely outcomes of events and combinations of conditions. It is linked to GIS for both input and output. The modelling is based on a channel reach and state is input as GIS layers of morphology (DEM), sediment and vegetation cover and state. Other initial conditions of soil moisture, groundwater level, and overall gradient are input. Parameters for processes are read from tables and can be easily changed for successive runs of the model. The bases for decisions on process specifications are discussed in this paper. Initial tests of the operation and sensitivity of the model were made on idealized reaches. The model was then tested using data from monitored sites in SE Spain. Simulations using clearwater flow worked well but initial simulations using events with sediment loads showed some tendency for excess deposition. Further tests and modifications are taking place. Overall, the model is one of the most sophisticated that simulates the interaction of flows with sediment and vegetation and the outcomes in terms of erosion, deposition, morphology, sediment cover, vegetation cover and plant survival over periods of up to 30 years for the scale of a channel reach. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.